An Anti-Aging Secret My Dermatologist Told Me

An Anti-Aging Secret My Dermatologist Told Me

If you ask any skincare professional or dermatologist what the best anti-aging secret is, they’ll probably tell you this… stay out of the SUN!  However, there was one tip that my dermatologist told me that I will never forget – The best way to see the amount of sun damage on your face was to compare your skin on your face to the skin on your… BUM!


Why Your Bum Is The Best Aging Guideline

Your bum is the one area that rarely gets any sun exposure. That’s why most people say their skin on their bum is the softest and least wrinkly. 

Just imagine, if your face got the same amount of sun exposure as your bum, it would look and feel just as soft!

If you’re noticing fine lines, dark spots and rough patches, you most likely have the sun to thank for that.  


sun damage on your face - kaia naturals

Photo by Sonnie Hiles.



It’s true that your genes are the strongest determinant of how your skin will age – and well, there’s not much you can do about that. There is one thing you CAN control when it comes to aging and that is sun damage. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if there’s one skincare product you NEED to have, it’s sunscreen. Read my guide on chemical vs natural sunscreens here

You can spend all the money you want on vitamin C serums, retinols, or AHA facials but none of them will work if you don’t use sunscreen. In fact, using those products without sunscreen will actually do MORE damage because they make your skin more photosensitive.

Keep reading to learn more about your genes, different types of sun damage, and how you can protect yourself and reverse pre-existing damage.



You may think you’re doomed to lines, wrinkles, dark spots and saggy skin as you get older, but science says that’s not the case for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to look 25 forever, but you can be an “exceptional skin ager,” according to the Multi-Decade and Ethnicity study. This project, conducted by Olay, 23andMe and Harvard researchers, set out to determine the secret to younger-looking skin. Is it genes or lifestyle choices?

Well, the short answer is both. 

After studying the skin of women between 20 to 74 years old, researchers found some very interesting results.

First, 10% of the participants were “exceptional skin agers,” women who looked 10 or more years younger than they actually were. They shared a total of about 2000 different gene expressions that allowed their skin to age slower than the average woman’s. 

We all have these genes, but how strongly they express themselves vary from person to person. And as we age, these genes slow down, but for exceptional skin agers, they never seem to quit. In other words, the genes related to collagen production, response to oxidative stress and other factors that affect skin aging behave just as they did when the exceptional skin agers were in their 20s.


sun damage on your face - kaia naturals

Photo by Kevin Laminto.



If you weren’t blessed with this type of gene expression, don’t fret – you’re part of the majority and there’s hope. The same researchers also concluded that we can affect this gene expression through our lifestyle choices, especially when it comes to sun exposure. The expression of CDKN2A⁠—a gene associated with skin aging—was more prevalent in women with higher sun-exposure. Meaning, participants who had higher sun exposure in their lifetimes had more signs of aging compared to women who had a limited amount.



The sun causes aging because of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation it emits. UV rays can get into our cells and damage our DNA. Because DNA makes up our genes, damaged DNA prevents our genes from doing their job, such as keeping our skin looking firm and plump. Or even worse, genetic mutations can lead to skin cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization identified UV rays as a carcinogen.



There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB.

UVA does more skin aging damage than UVB because it makes up 95% of the sun’s UV radiation; it penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, and is present throughout the whole day⁠—even when it’s cloudy. You can’t feel UVA damaging your skin. It’s a silent killer.

Although UVB doesn’t penetrate the skin as deep as UVA, but it is responsible for giving you those painful sunburns and it plays a key role in skin cancer. Unlike UVA, its intensity varies throughout the day and geographic location. The more sunny the area, the more UVB present. You’ll also know you’ve been exposed to too much of it when you get a sunburn.


sun damage on your face - kaia naturals

Photo by Getty Images.



Are you a hermit? Spend all your time indoors, with the curtains drawn and on your laptop? Well you’re not safe either, in fact you might be at the highest risk for wrinkles. Why? Because your laptops, phones, TV screens, ipads, fluorescent and LED lighting all emit high energy visible light (HEV) , also known as blue light. Blue light penetrates even deeper than uva/uvb rays research has suggested it is more harmful too.



Some studies have shown eating a diet containing vitamin C and vitamin E can protect the skin from UV rays, but you shouldn’t rely on this alone. The best and most effective way to protect yourself from the sun’s rays is to wear sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 for everyday exposure. If you’re going to be outside for very long, or you’re in a super sunny area, reach for 30. 

The SPF value represents how long it would take for UV rays to burn your skin. For example, if you were wearing SPF 15, it would take you 15 times as long to burn than if you weren’t wearing any. The value also indicates how much UV rays it protects from you: SPF 15 protects against 93 percent; SPF 30, 97% and SPF 50, 98%.



Remember, it’s much easier to prevent sun damage than having to repair it! In the case you have suffered from sun damage, here are a few methods to improve the look of lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation:


1. Wearing sunscreen everyday

This gives your skin time to heal and repair itself. 


2. Exfoliate

Removes the dead, dull-looking skin.


3. Fade the dark spots

Products containing vitamin C have been proven to lighten hyperpigmentation.


4. Moisturize and hydrate skin

Like grapes, skin raisins when it’s dehydrated. A good moisturizer combined with a product containing the collagen-promoting effects of AHA such as glycolic acid can plump up the skin.


5. Professional laser treatments

If you have the means for them, laser treatments can fade all signs of sun damage.


What are you favorite non-toxic sunscreens? Tell us below!

Care for your skin


Why Sunscreen is The Best… Yet Caution is Required

Why Sunscreen is The Best… Yet Caution is Required

If someone asks what my desert island product is? It would definitely be SUNSCREEN. Ask any dermatologist and they’d tell you to ALWAYS wear sunscreen 365 days a year if you want healthy, young looking skin. More importantly, wearing sunscreen will help protect us from skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.

Up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds, which is why you should wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy and raining outside. Sunscreen is a must-have for both beauty and health…but is it actually healthy for us? Like some deodorants, some sunscreens are actually toxic. Today, I’m decoding the difference between natural (mineral-based sunscreens) and chemical-based sunscreens.


why you need sunscreen - kaia naturals

Photo by lack of color.



There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. If you’re short on time and can’t be bothered with reading the details, just remember chemical = problem and mineral = better choice.  Here’s why: Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the UV rays from the sun, converting them into heat, and then releasing the heat from our bodies. They usually contain a combination of these chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

Although there are many other suspicious ingredients found in sunscreens, the one I’d like to focus on is OXYBENZONE.



Our skin absorbs oxybenzone like a SPONGE. A study from the EWG illustrated how sensitive our skin is to oxybenzone. Participants in the study who used chemical sunscreen had higher levels of oxybenzone in their bodies than those who did not. An even more interesting study showed correlations between eliminating usage of products containing oxybenzone and significantly lower oxybenzone levels in the body.



Oxybenzone is classified as an ENDOCRINE (hormone) DISRUPTOR. Endocrine disruptors alter the hormone levels in your body and are thought to lead to adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. Hormones are the chemical messengers that travel in your body and are responsible  for coordinating complex processes like growth, metabolism, and fertility. They can influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior. More importantly, endocrine disruptors  have been linked to lowered fertility and an increased incidence of endometriosis and some cancers.  For reference, parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances are also all known endocrine disruptors.


sunscreen - kaia naturals

Photo by the Linda Edit.



Oxybenzone doesn’t just affect you because if you’re pregnant it can impact the health of your baby too. Studies have shown significant relations between oxybenzone exposure in pregnant women, shorter pregnancy terms and lower birth weights in newborn males. A study conducted by American Academy of Pediatrics in 2006 found that infants with moderately low birth weights were significantly more likely to have a special health care need, chronic condition (diabetes, heart disease, etc), learning disability, and/or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD).

Oxybenzone not only affects your baby during pregnancy but can continue to affect them after they are born through breast milk. Margaret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich detected oxybenzone in Swiss women’s breast milk, which suggests that newborns may be exposed to these substances (Schlumpf 2008, Schlumpf 2010).



In a study conducted on American children, researchers found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements had significantly lower testosterone levels (Scinicariello 2016). Lower levels of testosterone has been linked to low energy levels, hair loss/male pattern balding, increased body fat, and lowered sex drive.


oxybenzone and coral reefs sunscreen - kaia naturals

Photo by Catrin Johnson.



When we swim in the ocean with chemical sunscreen on, oxybenzone enters into the water and gets ingested by corals. Oxybenzone has been found to decrease the coral’s defenses against bleaching and disrupts it’s reproduction and growth cycles.

In 2018, Hawaii passed a bill banning sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate in efforts to help protect their marine life and coral reefs.



The FDA says the only sunscreen ingredients that they know for certain are safe are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, also known as the two main active ingredients found in mineral sunscreens. They work by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting the sun’s rays. Mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are also coral-reef safe, as their particle sizes are much bigger than oxybenzone and cannot be ingested by corals.

Because mineral sunscreen doesn’t penetrate the skin, its only real downside is the trademark white cast sunscreen is famous for. But hey, I’d rather look like a ghost on the beach knowing my skin is protected.



Look for tinted mineral sunscreens or apply sunscreen underneath your makeup.


A lot of natural sunscreens use coconut oil which can leave your skin looking and feeling greasy. It’s also not ideal to use coconut oil on acne-prone skin as it can clog your pores, so look for coconut oil-free natural sunscreens.


Do you have a favourite mineral sunscreen? Share your recommendations below!